IT was all frowns in the City of Smiles Friday night.
Failing to live up to the hype, the Philippine men's football team bowed to Chinese Taipei, 1-2, and put its Peace Cup title-retention bid in peril at the Panaad Stadium in Bacolod City.
The near-full-strength Azkals surrendered an early goal that shocked the partisan crowd and left the national side in the back foot throughout.
James Younghusband provided the ray of hope, scoring the equalizer late in first-half injury time in a play that was sparked by the splendid playmaking of Stephan Schrock.
But the Filipino booters' eagerness to turn the game around worked against their favor as they let the Taiwanese score anew in the second half in a play off the counterattack.
Chinese Taipei, which lost to the Philippines last year, can secure the title right away with a win over Pakistan on Sunday.
Heavily favored to rule the second edition of the tournament, the Azkals are now left to hope for a Taiwanese loss on Sunday and a blowout win by the host over Pakistan on Tuesday.